Rapid tightening of blood glucose control leads to transient deterioration of retinopathy in insulin dependent diabetes mellitus: the Oslo study

Br Med J (Clin Res Ed). 1985 Mar 16;290(6471):811-5. doi: 10.1136/bmj.290.6471.811.


In a study of retinopathy during one year of tight blood glucose control 45 type I (insulin dependent) diabetics without proliferative retinopathy were randomised to receive either continuous subcutaneous insulin infusion, multiple insulin injections, or conventional insulin treatment (controls). Near normoglycaemia was achieved with continuous infusion and multiple injections but not with conventional treatment. Blind evaluation of fluorescein angiograms performed three monthly showed progression of retinopathy in the control group, transient deterioration in the continuous infusion group, and no change in the multiple injection group. Half the patients receiving continuous infusion and multiple injections developed retinal cotton wool spots after three to six months. These changes regressed in all but four patients after 12 months. Control patients did not develop cotton wool spots. Patients who developed cotton wool spots are characterised by a larger decrement in glycosylated haemoglobin and blood glucose values, more frequent episodes of hypoglycaemia, a longer duration of diabetes, and more severe retinopathy at onset. A large and rapid fall in blood glucose concentration may promote transient deterioration of diabetic retinopathy.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Blood Glucose / analysis*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / complications
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / drug therapy*
  • Diabetic Retinopathy / etiology*
  • Female
  • Hemoglobin A / analysis
  • Humans
  • Infusions, Parenteral
  • Insulin / administration & dosage*
  • Insulin / therapeutic use
  • Male
  • Time Factors


  • Blood Glucose
  • Insulin
  • Hemoglobin A